Scotland's New Urbanism: in theory and practice
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What form is taken by the architecture and planning movement known as the New Urbanism in Scotland? To answer this, and offer an original contribution to knowledge, the thesis takes as its starting point a survey of New Urbanism and moves to connect it to how New Urbanism is understood and practised in contemporary Scottish urbanism. In it, I argue that New Urbanism does not pay attention to the complexities of the recent spatial-social history of places and adds to the semantic confusion of new places generally. The thesis is a historical-spatial study concerned with the transfer of knowledge between New Urbanist theories and practice and how they have been received and reconfigured transnationally. The thesis is organised into four parts. It begins with a literature review that is a metahistoric account of the movement paying close attention to the symbiotic relationship of the U.S. and Anglo-European procedures and charting the theoretical basis and key figures, events and canonical developments. The scale narrows its focus throughout the thesis in a linear fashion, moving in chapter three to a close reading and review of Scottish governmental policy documents and associated literature produced since 2001. The aim here is to chart patterns in the official approaches that illuminate a tendency towards the New Urbanist procedure. I posit that government support for New Urbanism demonstrates an institutional preference for growth over social equity. I argue that the emergent New Urbanism in Scotland is representative of a perceived lack of community aligned with the privileging of upper middle-class tastes and lifestyles which are held as the dominant representation of cultural life (S. Zukin, 2009). Simultaneously, a move towards neo-traditional planning and architecture is also a politically sanctioned strategy for economic growth that prioritises growth in housing over environmental or ecological sustainability. Two site studies document the emerging New Urbanism in Scotland by analysing two different approaches. The site studies deal with one built example and one masterplan located in Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire respectively. Separated into two sections they can be read as comparative studies which account for two distinct manifestations of Scottish New Urbanism; a modified Anglo-European version promoted by the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community and an ‘imported’ US version typically led by established urban designers DPZ (or Urban Design Associates), with both broadly receiving government support. The purpose of the research is to contribute to a better understanding of the movement’s origins and subsequent recontextualisation in a specifically Scottish condition. This is arguably relevant not only to contemporary Scottish urbanism but to general scholarship on the organisation and politics of space.